I’ve been on my own with our children for the past four days. This isn’t all that unusual – over our 8 years of parenting there have been many times when my husband has needed to go away for his work – sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few weeks. I fully admit that I have at times felt “stuck” when he’s been out of town, overwhelmed by the sudden reality of single parenting and more than a bit envious of his time away.
This time was different. On paper, it didn’t look so good: two children aching for summer outings, the final week of summer vacation, and no car. As my dear husband drove away I took in a deep breath of acceptance and felt myself smile.
He didn’t go away for work. He didn’t go away for a weekend with his buddies. He went away to write. He went to simply sit in a friend’s cabin by himself for a few days and see if there is indeed a book inside of him that needs to come out.
I was happy he was going – this writing retreat is long overdue. Still, I didn’t anticipate just how at peace I would feel with him away. Not a moment of resentment at solo-parenting, nor a tinge of jealousy that he was away instead of me (I’ve had my share this summer!). All I felt was absolute joy that he was enjoying the time and space he needs to grow as a writer.
So often in our Mama Renew groups we hear from women bemoaning their partners’ lack of interest in self-care. There is certainly an impact on our relationship and family life when one, or both of us, are not caring for ourselves outside of parenting and work life.
This time away was wonderful for him – he emerged with a clear vision and structure for a book, new articles and blog posts, and a stronger sense of himself as a writer. I am, however, astonished to find the extent to which his self-care retreat has nourished me as well.
Quite simply, it felt really really good knowing he was out there exploring his craft. I loved knowing he was on his own, enjoying ocean swims, leftover pasta and the peace of an island cabin. I felt absolute gratitude that we had managed to create this time and space for his needs amidst our full life as a family.
Most importantly, I find myself acutely aware of the extent to which our self-care shapes not only our own experience, but that of our loved ones. We owe self-care to ourselves, first and foremost, but our commitment to ourselves also shapes our commitment to our family and community.
My goal for this month? To schedule two solo retreats for each of us over the next year – in the calendar, in pen. Supporting one another in self-care seems to me to be one of the best things we can do for our relationship and our growing family. It shouldn’t have to be so hard to make the space…and as I now understand in a whole new way – it is so, so worth the investment! – for both of us.
If you could schedule one self-care activity for your sweetie, what would it be?
Much gratitude to brilliant painter Chantey Dayal for the use of her painting, Taking Off, for this blog. You can learn more about Chantey on her website & facebook page. Watch for more of her paintings in future postings.
About Sarah Juliusson
Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew